Big Surprise: Google Continues to Dominate Search

Google’s search page remains largely unchanged, and people seem to like it that way.

Shocking news: Google continues to dominate the U.S. search market, according to the latest data from research firm comScore.

Google owned 67.1 percent of that market in March 2013, a slight dip from its 67.5 percent share the preceding month; Microsoft also held steady at 16.9 percent, an incremental gain from its 16.7 percent share in February. Yahoo trailed in third with 11.8 percent, up a bit from 11.6 percent; Ask came in fourth with 2.7 percent (up from 2.6 percent); and AOL came in fifth with 1.6 percent (down from 1.7 percent).

In terms of gross numbers, online searchers conducted some 20.4 billion “explicit core searches” in March, of which 13.7 billion were filtered through Google sites; Microsoft handled 3.4 billion searches, Yahoo dealt with 2.4 billion, Ask took care of 540 million, and AOL 321 million.

Again, those percentages aren’t a surprise: in July 2011 (just to choose a random month), Google held 65.1 percent of the market, while Yahoo came in second with 16.1 percent and Microsoft in third with 14.4 percent. In the current environment, Google always leads by a healthy margin, leaving Yahoo and Bing to trail well behind in second and third place. If Microsoft has gained ground in recent years, it’s been at the expense of Yahoo, but their respective market-shares don’t actually matter all that much—under the terms of a search-and-advertising agreement signed in the summer of 2009, Microsoft’s infrastructure powers Yahoo’s search engine.

But those relatively stagnant numbers belie something a tad more interesting: Microsoft has spent considerable sums of money over the past few years building up search alliances and increasing the capabilities of its Bing search engine; it’s also engaged in a long-running campaign to tarnish Google’s reputation in the court of public opinion—its Scroogled advertisements are just the latest iteration of that effort.

Despite all those dollars and effort, though, it’s clear that Microsoft has failed to dent Google’s core property. Google built a commanding market presence long ago; it’s often difficult to dislodge such companies from their dominating position unless they screw up in some fundamental way. But Google’s managed to stay the course, giving Microsoft precious little room to maneuver—the best the latter can do is sign search-partner agreements, spend more money on television ads, and hope its market-share eventually creeps up to the point where it represents a more significant challenge to Mountain View.

Some neat features and colorful backgrounds aside, Bing has failed to pose an existential threat to Google.


Images: Google, Microsoft